FORT WAYNE – Virginia Fryback was heartbroken when her beloved cat, Charlie, disappeared from her Fort Wayne home five years ago. She searched for Charlie, but he seemed to have vanished into thin air, and Fryback finally gave up all hope that he would ever be found.
But this week, her hope was restored.
Fryback received notice from Fort Wayne Animal Care & Control that Charlie was found Monday, nearly 6 miles from Fryback’s home, and was being cared for at the shelter.
Charlie is now 10 years old.
Officials at Animal Care & Control had discovered Charlie’s microchip implant that identified Fryback as the owner. They called Fryback but got no answer, so staff sent a postcard.
Fryback showed up at shelter Tuesday and was over the top with excitement, shelter spokeswoman Peggy Bender said.
A local veterinarian had recommended that Fryback get the microchip implant when Charlie was just a kitten.
We routinely scan all lost pets for a microchip, and it’s wonderful when we find one and can notify an owner that we have their lost pet, Bender said. The chip has likely saved Charlie’s life because most people choose to adopt a much younger cat.
Microchips are tiny transponders, about the size of a grain of rice, that use radio frequency waves to transmit information about an animal. They’re designed to last about 25 years and they are implanted by a veterinarian or animal shelter just under the skin, usually right between the shoulder blades.
A resident who lives near Washington Center Road called the shelter and told officials she had found a cat hanging around in the yard.
He had somehow managed to travel nearly 6 miles from Fryback’s home on St. Marys Avenue.
Shelter officials said Charlie was not malnourished or mistreated, although a little dirty, and surmised that someone had taken care of the cat, possibly as an indoor-outdoor pet.
Fryback told shelter staff that she was going to call her vet right away and express her gratitude for the recommendation that ultimately brought Charlie back home.
I never thought I’d see him again, she told shelter officials. Fryback described herself to shelter officials as a cat person and said the other cats she had five years ago have since passed away. She had some new cats she was eager for Charlie to meet, they said.
Virginia picked Charlie up, and he just laid his head on her shoulder, Bender said.